How to Maintain Your Calm and Not Crack Under Pressure: 4 Tips to Deal With Stress

India’s defeat in the ICC world cup semi-finals was heartbreaking. It was really an end of a dream for Kohli and his team and the entire country. In a match that was spread over two days with a fall of early Indian wickets, we can only imagine the pressure under which the middle order Indian batsmen had to play. This was a match where we saw Virat Kohli choke and MS Dhoni maintain his calm. And if there was anything that gave us hope, it was the calm with which Dhoni and Jadeja held the fort. If you too tend to lose your still under pressure during an official presentation, or match, or any other competition, use these tips to cope.

1. Make a Fist

Squeeze a ball or just use your left hand to make a fist and hold for 30 seconds. Doing this can activate the right brain hemisphere which governs the visual-spatial processing and suppresses the left hemisphere which directs analytic and verbal processing. Researchers found that this prevented choking in players and martial arts experts in an experimental setting.

2. Rehearse Before an Audience

Chokers hate to be watched. So, a practice session in front of an audience before that business presentation or match can really help. Rehearse in front of an audience of people who will be honest and whose opinion you value. This could mean asking a neutral co-worker or your brother to critique your practice. If that’s difficult to re-create, try videoing yourself. Does watching sports give you anxiety? Here's how to survive. 

3. Have a Quiet Eye

If you pay attention, you will notice that expert shooters look at the rim longer and good golfers look at the ball longer. Most skilled performers keep their eyes still before they actually start moving.  This practice of ‘quiet eye’ can not only help you focus but also calm down. Being harsh on yourself could lead to OCD and anxiety disorder.

4. Use Trigger Words

Feeling out of control is a key contributor to choking. So it can be a great idea to pair it with trigger words that can keep you calm and focused on a task. Maybe you can tell yourself ‘it’s okay, take it easy’ or just say ‘all is well’ or whatever works for you. These words can help maintain your calm.

Anxiety and fear of failure can distract your mind and take critical brain resources like the working memory away from the task at hand. So the next time you react under pressure, remember to try these tricks.